|Intermunic. comm.||Médio Tejo|
|o Total||71.29 km2 (27.53 sq mi)|
|Elevation||356 m (1,168 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC±00:00 (WET)|
|Patron||Our Lady of Pleasures |
Our Lady of Fátima
Fátima (Portuguese pronunciation: ['fatim?] ) is a city in the municipality of Ourém and district of Santarém in the Central Region of Portugal, with 71.29 km2 of area and 13,224 inhabitants (2021). The homonymous civil parish encompasses several villages and localities of which the city of Fátima is the largest.
The civil parish has been permanently associated with the Marian apparitions that were purportedly witnessed by three local shepherd children at the Cova da Iria in 1917. The Catholic Church later recognized these events as "worthy of belief". A small chapel was built at the site of the apparition, now known as Our Lady of Fátima, beginning in 1918, and a statue of her installed. The chapel and statue have since been enclosed within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, a shrine complex containing two minor basilicas. Associated facilities for pilgrims, including a hotel and medical centre, have also been built over the decades within and around the Sanctuary. The city has become an important international destination for religious tourists, receiving between 6 and 8 million pilgrims yearly.
Fátima was said to be the name of a Moorish princess kidnapped by a knight, Gonçalo Hermigues, and his companions. Hermigues took her to a small village in the Serra de Aire hills, in the recently created Kingdom of Portugal. According to the Western Catholic narrative, Fatima fell in love with her kidnapper and decided to convert to Christianity in order to marry him. She was baptized and given a Christian name, Oureana.
Whatever version is true, the place name recalls the Princess' original Arab name rather than her Christian baptismal one.
The parish was founded in 1568, when it was annexed by the Collegiate of Ourém (Portuguese: Colegiada de Ourém). For centuries, most of the villagers kept herds of sheep and depended also on subsistence farming.
Since the 18th century, Fátima has been associated with events related to Marian apparitions. The first supposed apparition dates back to the mid 18th century in Ortiga, now a quarter of Fátima, when, according to popular belief, Virgin Mary purportedly appeared to a young mute shepherdess and asked for one of her sheep, causing the girl to speak in response. This event supposedly incited the creation of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ortiga in 1758, which, in 1801, prompted Pope Pius VII to grant an indulgence to all pilgrims visiting the Marian shrine.
Later in the early 20th century a similar event took place in which three local children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, purportedly saw visions of a woman known as Our Lady of Fátima, since believed by the Catholic Church to be the Virgin Mary. On 13 May 1917, whilst guarding their families' sheep in the Cova da Iria, the children first claimed to have seen an apparition of a "lady dressed in white" and shining with a bright light.
The three shepherd children were born in Aljustrel, a small hamlet about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) from Fátima. To the west, near Aljustrel, is Loca do Cabeço, a smaller agglomeration of rocky outcroppings where, in 1916, an angel appeared twice to the three children. The children claimed to have seen the Marian apparition on six occasions; they said the last would be 13 October 1917. An estimated 70,000 pilgrims went to the site for the last prophesied apparition in October. Some of them reported what has been referred to as the Miracle of the Sun, when some observers reported it appeared to be behaving unusually.
The local bishop investigated the events and determined that the apparitions were worthy of belief. The site was marked by a cross erected by locals. In 1918 they built a small chapel, built from rock and limestone and covered in tile. It was 3.3 metres (11 ft) by 2.8 metres (9.2 ft) length, and 2.85 metres (9.4 ft) height. It became a centre for Marian devotion, receiving names such as a fé de Fátima, cidade da Paz ("the faith of Fátima, City of Peace"), or Terra de Milagres e Aparições ("Land of Miracles and Apparitions").
The chapel has since been enclosed within a large basilica and sanctuary, part of a complex including a hotel and other facilities. In 1930, the statue of Our Lady in the Chapel of Apparitions was crowned by the Vatican.
Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920, during the international Spanish flu pandemic. Lucia dos Santos became a nun and lived until 2005. The two who died young were beatified on 13 May 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and were canonised by Pope Francis on 13 May 2017, the hundredth anniversary of the first apparition.
The construction of the sanctuary and the steady visits by pilgrims stimulated local development. In addition to construction of a large shrine, basilica, and sanctuary, the complex includes a hotel and other facilities. The town of Fátima was elevated to the status of city on 12 July 1997.
In the early 21st century, numerous residents of the parish (primarily from its business sector) worked to have Fátima designated as an independent municipality. The project, led by Júlio Silva, engineer and ex-president of the Junta de Freguesia (Parish Council), was vetoed in July 2003 by President of Portugal Jorge Sampaio.
Fátima is located in central west Portugal. It borders São Mamede (Batalha) and Minde (Alcanena) to the southwest, Pedrógão and Chancelaria (Torres Novas) in the east, Atouguia and Nossa Senhora das Misericórdias (Ourém) to the north and Santa Catarina da Serra e Chainça (Leiria) to the northwest.
The parish contains the following localities: Aljustrel, Alvaijar, Amoreira, Boleiros, Casa Velha, Casal Farto, Chã, Charneca, Cova da Iria, Eira da Pedra, Fátima, Giesteira, Lombo da Égua, Maxeira, Moimento, Moita Redonda, Moitas, Montelo, Pederneira, Poço de Soudo, Ramila, Vale de Cavalos and Valinho de Fátima.
Fátima sits on a plateau at approximately 356 metres (1,168 ft) above sea level, being at a much higher altitude than the rest of the parishes in Ourém. This plateau represents the northernmost portion of the Estremadura Limestone Massif, which was created during the Middle Jurassic and is characterized by various geological formations including sinkholes, uvalas and polje (like the Polje de Minde-Mata), as well as karst grottoes, caves with stalactites and stalagmites, in addition to lapiez fields. As such, Fátima has geological and cultural similarities with the nature park of Serras de Aire e Candeeiros just south of it.
The soil is characteristically porous which intensifies the already low availability of water in the summer. And even though precipitation in autumn, winter and spring is relatively high, the overall flora is Mediterranean and well adapted to droughts.
The trees in this area are primarily dominated by holly oak (Quercus rotundifolia), Portuguese oak (Quercus faginea), strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus), mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) and olive trees, all of which are resistant to both the winter precipitation extremes and the summer drought . There are also areas of savannah, strips of land bounded by walls of loose stone. Pine and eucalyptus forests are also common in the outskirts of the city.
Fátima has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csb) in transition to a hot-summer (Csa).
The climate is characterized by heavy precipitation during late autumn and winter, with approximately 1,150 millimetres (45 in) annually, and warm, dry summers. Fátima has considerably more precipitation than other cities nearby in part due to its higher altitude, though precipitation in summer is more or less the same.
In the winter, temperatures range between 13 °C (55 °F) at day and 4 °C (39 °F) at night with January being the coldest month. Humid air masses coming from N/NW that come into contact with the plateau of Fátima are the reason behind the strong rains experienced in the low-sun half of the year. Light frosts are typical from late December to mid February and temperatures can get down to -4 °C (25 °F) occasionally.
Summer temperatures range between 27 °C (81 °F) at day and 15 °C (59 °F) at night, but are rather unpredictable, as influences from the marine layer of the nearby Atlantic can often lower the maxima to around 22 °C (72 °F) and thermal lows from the Iberian Peninsula can lead temperatures to surpass 35 °C (95 °F). Temperatures rarely get above 40 °C (104 °F) but when they do they are often accompanied by low humidity which can sometimes lead to unwanted forest fires around the area.
The city has about 2600 hours of annual sunshine. Snow is rare but not uncommon, the last one being in 2016 and 2013 both in 27 February.
|Climate data for Boleiros, Fátima, altitude: 320 m (1,050 ft), 1984-2002|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||173.7
|Source: Portuguese Environment Agency|
Fátima is twinned with:
The economy of the town relies on religious tourism because the world devotion through Our Lady of Fátima attracts millions of Christian pilgrims. The locals have numerous shops and stalls devoted to the sale of religious articles and souvenirs. In addition, services for tourists, hotels, restaurants and other retail also benefit from the visitors. Other economic activities in the region include: marble sculpturing, saw-milling, carpentry, civil construction, commerce, and services.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, in Cova da Iria, is the principal focus of all visitors. Annually, at least five million Catholic pilgrims fill the country roads leading to the Marian shrine. Numbers can reach hundreds of the thousands on 13 May and 13 October, the most significant dates of the apparitions in Fátima.